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Google, Microsoft Say No To Congress On China

Three out of the four companies invited to tomorrow’s congressional briefing on American companies enforcing Chinese censorship have flat out refused to attend. Google, Microsoft and Cisco have said they willnot be coming to the briefing, designed to spotlight the collusion between American companies and the Chinese government. Yahoo has not yet said wether it will attend.

While attendance at Wednesday’s briefing was not mandatory, companies could be compelled with subpoenas to attend a Feb. 15 hearing on the issue, said Rep. Chris Smith, Republican chairman of the House International Relations subcommittee on global human rights.

In an interview, Smith criticized U.S. Internet companies, saying they were helping China arrest and torture activists and screen information from its citizens.

“This is not benign or neutral,” the lawmaker said of companies acceding to China’s demands. “They have an obligation not to be promoting dictatorship.”

Sometimes we forget that even though this is the cost of doing business in China, these actions are contradictory to the Constitution of the United States of America and the ideals of democracy. Expect some impassioned speeches on the 15th.

UPDATE: Google has a post on their blog explaining why they aren’t coming, by way of reprinting their letter to Congress. First two paragraphs, as addressed by Google’s Andrew McLaughlin:

On behalf of Google, I would like to thank the Members of the Human Rights Caucus for inviting Google to participate in today’s Member Briefing on Human Rights and the Internet in China.

Though previously scheduled commitments prevent me from appearing in person today, I reiterate Google’s offer to participate in a Member Briefing on another date, to brief Members individually, and to continue briefing staff on our activities in China.

I love that Google is doing this. Unless expressly forbidden by law, I think every company should post publicly their communiques with the government, remain transparent about this stuff, so we don’t find out about Justice Department requests for search history half a year later.

Still, don’t tell Congress you have other commitments. We all know you aren’t coming because you want to save the fight for the subpeona’d hearing.

January 31st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Controversy, General | 5 comments

Market Reacts Badly To Google Earnings With A Plunge

The financial markets hated Google’s latest earnings report, sending the stock plummeting over sixty dollars.

As the Associated Press explains, the markets expected Google to report earnings per share of $1.76, an average of the predictions of 31 analysts. Google reported $1.54 a share, and that was before costs were deducted for the startup of the charitable Google Foundation, which further knocked it down to $1.22 a share.

The reaction from Wall Street has been nothing sort of disastrous. Google shares plunged
$61.65 in after hours trading, losing 14.25% and dropping to $371.01.

432.6601 +5.8401 (1.37%)  31 Jan at 4:00PM ET
Open:  430.57
High:  439.60
Low:  423.973
Volume:  20,344,707
Avg Vol:  12,594,000
Mkt Cap:  127.87B
Nasdaq data delayed by 15 minutes - Disclaimer
After Hours ECN: 371.01 -61.65 (-14.25%)  31 Jan at 5:35PM ET

In twenty days, Google has fallen over a hundred dollars, sliding from the record high of $475.11 on January 11 to the current $371. GOOG bottomed out as low as $394.74 on the 20th, losing $44 on that day, but it seemed to be in recovery mode ever since, inching higher since, reaching as high as $454, but now I’d wonder if it’ll recover at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see a new record high until after the next earnings report.

Sorry for those of you who bought Google as a bargain eleven days ago. It should have been strictly a short-term investment.

January 31st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Stock Market, General | 4 comments

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Fortune Telling On My Blog

I must be blessed today, because Madam Mysterious showed up and gave me an unsolicited Spirit Card Reading regarding one of my advertisers. How often do you get that lucky?

A word to the comment spammers out there: If you amuse me, or add anything to the discussion, your comment stays. So maybe next time, find a way to tie online poker and phentermine to something I’m talking about, and you’ll actually get to keep the link.

Oh, and Madam Mysterious warns against mischief, encourages me to wear proper protection, and try to keep to illuminated paths. Good advice!

January 31st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Humor, General | 3 comments

Google Reports 86% Earnings Growth

Google has reported its financial results for its fourth quarter, and they look pretty good. Revenue jumped 86% . More details coming, press release is here.

Okay, revenues for the fourth quarter were $1.9 billion ($1,919,093,000), up from $1.03 in the same quarter a year ago, again, an increase of 86%, and 22% higher than the previous quarter. Net income was $372 million, up from $204 a year ago and down from $381 million the previous quarter. Earnings-per-share was $1.22 ($1.54 non-GAAP), down from $1.32 ($1.51 non-GAAP) in the previous quarter.

Google’s tax rate was 41.8% in this quarter, far higher than the 30% Google expected, due to expenses allocated to international operations. Google expects 30% for 2006.

Revenue from Google sites continues to take up a larger portion of Google’s revenue, now some 57%, while Google Network (AdSense) revenue has fallen to 42% of total revenues. This is largely because of slowing growth in AdSense revenue, with Google sites showing 24% increase in revenues, compared to 18% for Google Network.

Traffic Aquisition Costs continued to fall as a percentage of ad revenues, from 34% down to 32.2% since the last quarter. Google’s capital expenditures were lower, down $48 million to $245 million (this is the money spent mostly on servers and office space).

For all of 2005, Google had revenues of $6.139 billion, up 92% from 2004. Over the year, revenue from Google sites increased 112.5%, while AdSense revenues increased 72.9%, considerably less. Remember that not long ago, Google sites and Google Network revenue were almost dead even.

Google has cash on hand of about $8 billion.

January 31st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Stock Market, General | no comments

Easily Add Custom Search To Google Toolbar

Forget waiting for your favorite website to create a Google Toolbar button, Matt Cutts shows you how to make your own. Its really simple, just right-click in a search box on any website and click “Generate Custom Search…” and you get your button. It even grabs the page’s favicon for the button. You can go in afterwords and use the custom button editor to hand edit the XML and change any search parameters, creating all sorts of wild and crazy searches. I just added a button to search my own Bloglines subscriptions.

January 31st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Toolbar, Tools, General | one comment

New Google Blog: Enterprise

There’s a new Googler blog on Enterprise solutions, like the Search Appliance/Mini, Enterprise versions of Toolbar, Desktop and Google Earth, and advice on use of Google products in corporate environments. Get the feed.
(via David Krane)

January 31st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Blogs, General | no comments

Matt Cutts Accused Of Not Giving Credit

This is kind of stupid: A ThreadWatch thread (one Aaron Wall decided was small potatoes enough to pull from the front page) calls out Google’s Matt Cutts for not crediting the creator of his WordPress theme. It notes that the theme, by default, has a link to the homepage of the creator, and Matt must have cut it out when customizing.

Well, look at my blogs. I’m relatively sure I give no credit (although they likely came that way, you can check yourself if you care so much). Maybe I should, but as text, not a link. No one creates themes for money, otherwise they’d just sell them (and I’d gladly pay for a good one), they do it to show off their skills and help out. Random link juice only hurts the quality of search results and accomplishes nothing. You should let people know where they can get your theme, and credit whoever worked hard on it, but sending along PageRank is not a requirement.

As a person concerned with SEO and search spam, Matt is exactly the person who should never include such a link! Remember when WordPress was spamming Google, because of the exact same credit links on millions of WordPress blogs? If this is your job, why would you do the exact same thing you try to stop others from doing?


For the record, my theme is currently “Three Column Black And Red” by Lee Penney, obviously heavily modified by myself, but retaining all of the basic site structure. Lee’s template has code that is a breeze to work with, unlike some other themes I’ve tried. And yes, I was serious about paying for a new theme, but you don’t want the job; my ideas are specific, vague, difficult and annoying.

Oh, and look at this theme. It’s wild!

January 31st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Culture, Blogs, General | 3 comments

Caching Google

This website, as a protest, is running a Google Cache. That is, not a cache like Google’s cache of other websites, but a cache of Google, page by page. Basically, its a protest against Google’s cache. Confused?

This is a protest site, pure and simple. I am not in anyway affiliated with Google, and they certainly do not condone this website. If Google sends a mean enough letter, I am sure that I will cower and take this site down in a second. After the recent ruling that stated Google’s cache of copyrighted materials was “fair use”, I decided to put this to the test myself. This is The Google Cache. You search Google, your results get cached. It is that simple. Is it legal?

Some of the pages in the recently cached list are hilarious.

I don’t get the whole anti-Google cache thing. This site actually makes smart arguement I never heard of, but I still support the cache as a useful tool in fighting internet downtime (better than the Web Accelerator, since the cache is more passive). I hate content thieves with a passion, but I don’t see the problem with Google’s copy.
(via ThreadWatch)

January 31st, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Controversy, Humor, General | 3 comments